12:00 Witness describes amputations, burnings as rebel force withdrew from Freetown

9:30 (10:00 with the delay in video and audio): Court is in session.

Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues her direct examination of witness Alimamy Bobson Sesay:

Pros: Before we continue where we left off, I want to clarify a few matters. Yesterday you testified about a communication between Gullit and Mosquito. You said Gullit informed Mosquito about the Kukuna operation. How do you know about that communication?

Wit: After the Kukuna operation, the troop came. Bazzy was part of the team and reported to Gullit. Gullit said he’d brief Mosquito and others about the operation. He called Bomb Blast and myself and we went to the radio room to listen to the call.

Pros: You were asked about the reinforcements released by Saj and Superman. You stated: “Saj said that was why he and Superman had sent ahead the mixed troop of SLA, RUF, STF and former NPFL fighters to reinforce…while the others in the rear would also move.” Who were you referring to?

Wit: To the RUF/SLA based in Kailahun, Kono and Daru.

Pros: Who were they at the time?

Wit: Through monitoring we knew that Akim and others were in that Kono area. Other groups of RUF and SLA were in the Daru area.

Pros: Which RUF was in the Kono area?

Wit: Isaac Mongor and others. Akim Turay, an SLA. Issa Sesay and Morris Kallon. There was RUF Rambo too.

Pros: Where was RUF Rambo?

Wit: Also in that Kono axis.

Pros: When you were testifying about a communication about the weakening of ECOMOG forces so that they could not reinforce their troop in Freetown, you said, “It was an operation that was planned.” Can you explain what you meant?

Wit: According to the radio monitoring, the advances were to take place in the various areas I’ve named. WE were to move towards Freetown. Those in Kailahun were to advance.

Pros: Who planned it?

Wit: When monitoring was going on, all of these plans came from Kailahun, through Mosquito.

Pros; How do you know this?

Wit: When the radio man would get that information through information, he would take it to the commander, who would pass it to the operations commander.

Pros: Who was the operations commander?

Wit: Hassan Papa Bangura.

Pros: How did you know about this communication?

Wit: Whenever the radio man showed the paper to him with the information, I too would read it. Hassan Papa Bangura could not read, so I read it.

Pros: You were talking about the plan, and I interrupted you. Please continue.

Wit: The RUF/SLA in Daru should advance, and those in Kono should advance. Superman should advance, and we should advance toward Freetown.

Pros: When you speak about monitoring going on, can you tell the court for how long the monitoring went on?

Wit: Monitoring went on right up to 2000 when we were part of the West Side. It went on constantly at the brigade. There was a set for monitoring.

Pros: When did the monitoring start?

Wit: When we were based in Kono, we had a monitoring set we used.

Pros: When was that?

Wit: That was March-July 1998.

Pros: Was there still monitoring when you moved to Mansofinia?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Was there a time when the monitoring stopped?

Wit: It only stopped when we lost the set. We lost one of the sets, but monitoring still carried on.

Def: Different witnesses have defined “monitoring” in different ways. It’s not clear what he means here.

Judge Doherty: I share that concern.

Pros: When you say “monitoring”, what do you mean?

Wit: There was the radio man. Their responsibility was to monitor all the areas. Through those monitorings, they’d take those to the commanders.

Judge Doherty: What did these mean exactly?

Wit: There was a monitoring set from the morning to the evening. We used a solar panel. As the sun fell, we stopped the monitoring.

Def: Counsel is establishing that monitoring began in March 1998 right through to the end. It’s not clear if that included ECOMOG. Monitoring of what, of whom? There’s no foundation for that.

Pros: When you say “the monitoring only stopped when we lost one of the sets…but we were still using it”, what do you mean?

Wit: When we moved to Karina, we had a radio set but no mike. We were not communicating but were listening. Monitoring went on.

Pros: Between March 1998 and 2000…

Judge Sebutinde: When he says they lost the set, what were they using to monitoring?

Wit: We had two sets and the radio man took the one with the mike. We used the spare, without a mike to monitor.

Judge Doherty: Does “monitor” mean “listen”?

Wit: It was continuous listening to the radio, but we were unable to send anything because we had no mike.

Pros: What were you listening to between March 1998 and 2000?

Def: The question is vague.

Judge Doherty: I think it’s an attempt to address your objection, but it is a bit wide.

Pros: What kinds of communication were being monitored?

Wit: We monitored the various areas where the RUF and SLA occupied. Whatever messages came from the high command in Kailahun, those messages were also monitored.

Pros: When you say “high command” what are you talking about?

Wit: Mosquito was the leader there, who gave commands.

Pros: Were there other kinds of communication being monitored?

Wit: We monitored ECOMOG movements in our area. When they wanted to advance in our area, we would know.

Pros: How were you able to monitor the ECOMOG movements?

Wit: We were trained SLA and we had been working with them. The communication man would get the channel.

Pros: When you say you were working with them, who are you referring to?

Wit: I’m referring to the days we were together with the Nigerians in Freetown. We were trained with them, so we knew most of their channels. We monitored their stations to get their plans.

Pros: When you were talking about jets, you said, “This was the ECOMOG Alpha Jet, which we referred to as the 448.” What does that mean?

Wit: It was the code that came from Kailahun. If they sent the message that “448 was coming”, it meant we should take cover because the jets were coming.

Pros: This message about 448 – where were these jets coming from?

Wit: Mosquito said the jets were coming from an ECOMOG base in Liberia to attack our positions.

Pros: You testified yesterday about 50 vehicles set on fire near the Old Road. Do you know who they belonged to?

Wit: When we advanced to Fisher Lane, there were civilians in their vehicles. We saw them getting out of their vehicles and running away.

Pros: Was it these vehicles that the civilians ran away from that were set on fire?

Wit: Yes. There were over 50 of them that we set on fire.

Pros: You testified yesterday in relation to the release of prisoners from Pademba Road Prison, that you had information that Foday Sankoh was in prison there. Where did you get this information from?

Wit: It was not hidden. We got it over the international media that Sankoh was in prison together with others, including Tina Musa – Saj Musa’s wife.

Pros: Can you clarify, where was Saj Musa’s wife?

Wit: She too was in the central prison.

Pros: How do you know that?

Wit: It was not hidden. They were all charged to court. It was in the international media.

Pros: You said when the prisoners were released, Sankoh was not there?

Wit: Yes, they said it was that morning that ECOMOG took Sankoh from the prison.

Pros: Where was Tina Musa when the prisoners were released?

Wit: We met her. We released her.

Pros: You testified about the composition of the Red Lion Battalion. How is it that the group got that name?

Wit: When they came from Koinadugu to reinforce us, that was the name they had, “Red Lion” – it was a section of the 05 group that came. Gullit then called them “Red Lion Battalion”.

Pros: You did not mention that SLAs were part of the Red Lion Battalion, but later you included SLAs as being part of it. Now to be clear…

Def: If you look at the previous page, it says that Med Bejehjeh, an SLA, led them. So it’s not right that he didn’t first say there were SLAs.

Pros: To be fair, my question is to clarify an inconsistency. He said SLA, then didn’t include SLAs, then included SLAs. I’m merely clarifying inconsistencies.

Judge Doherty: You’re entitled to clarify, but don’t cross-examine your own witness.

Pros: What was the composition of the Red Lion Battalion?

Wit: Gullit appointed Med Bejehjeh to command the battalion. There were a few other SLAs in the Red Lion Battalion.

Pros: What other groups were included?

Wit: SLA, RUF, STF, and Liberians from the NPFL.

Pros: What happened to the prisoners released from Pademba Road Prison?

Wit: We told them to report to State House. We protected most of them and took them to Benguema. Then some were taken to Makeni.

Pros: Who was taken to Makeni?

Wit: Joseph Saidu Momoh, Osho Williams, Manly Spain, [others]. These were the politicians.

Pros: Who was Victor Fall (ph?)

Wit: He was a politician working with the AFRC regime in Freetown.

Pros: Who picked up this group to take them to Makeni?

Wit: RUF Rambo, Issa Sesay and others. When we got to Benguema, we asked for them. They said they were taking them for safety – as far as Kailahun.

Pros; Who said this?

Wit; Gullit told us. We were the last batch to withdraw from Freetown.

Pros: You said yesterday in reference to the Red Lion Battalion: the STF, NPFL and RUF men used headbands. I asked about their color, and you said most were red. Apart from red headbands, were there headbands of any other color?

Wit: Some people in the Red Lions also had white headbands.

Pros: Those who had white, was there anything written on them?

Wit: Some people wrote “RUF” on the white headbands.

Pros: When you say “that is danger”, what do you mean?

Wit: Wherever this battalion got to, they would come in a most powerful way. They would attack and burn to extremes. Wherever Red Lion got to, that was danger.

Judge Sebutinde: Is this the witness’s interpretation or Red Lion policy?

Pros: Why is it you say the wearing of red headbands meant danger?

Wit: When the Red Lion team was with us, we were happy because they were really hard fighters. We’d see them and say “oh, the danger men have come”.

Judge Sebutinde: So this was your personal assessment?

Wit: All of us in the troop.

Pros: When you say “danger has come”, who did you refer that they were a danger to?

Wit: I’m referring to the Red Lion Battalion, wherever they moved. They were really fierce.

Pros: They were dangerous to who?

Wit: To ECOMOG and even the civilians. What I observed was that most had no relations in Freetown, not like us who had family there. They didn’t care. Wherever they’d go, they’d be dangerous to anybody they saw.

Pros: Yesterday you testified about a communication between Gullit and RUF Rambo. You testified that RUF Rambo said “the SLA Rambo whom we referred to as ‘Red Goat’ who was with them.” In your testimony so far you’ve referred to Moses Kabia who was SLA Rambo.

Wit: No, this Red Goat was Idrissa Kamara.

Pros: When you said that Rambo Red Goat was alongside them, with whom?

Wit: He was with Superman.

Pros: How do you know this?

Wit: Even when Saj came to the base at Col. Eddie Town, everyone was asking for Rambo. Saj said he’d stayed behind with Superman. When the advances occurred, they came from Koinadugu and attacked Makeni. All of them then came to Waterloo. They left him to reinforce us at Waterloo.

Pros: I was asking yesterday about how you knew about the communication between Gullit and RUF Rambo, you said you were at State House when it took place. You said Rambo said they’d come as far as Hastings. Who is the Rambo here that you’re talking about?

Wit: RUF Rambo, all of them advanced together with Rambo SLA.

Pros: Which Rambo did Gullit call?

Wit: Rambo RUF.

Pros: You said they had some fear in them regarding Saj. Who had the fear?

Wit: Rambo said they had some fear because of some confusion between Superman and Saj, so maybe there’d be more infighting. He said in spite of that, they’d release some men to reinforce us in Freetown. Rambo said even though they had a fear that Saj was still present, they would still send the reinforcement.

Pros: After this communication between Gullit and RUF Rambo, did anything happen?

Wit: The ECOMOG forces attacked our position in Freetown and we retreated to Eastern Police.

Pros: What do you mean “our position”?

Wit: The RUF/SLA position at State House.

Pros: Did anything happen after that?

Wit: The government went over the air and asked for a cease fire to negotiate with the AFRC/RUF, in order to establish a peaceful atmosphere. We saw a group of government officials coming from the State House end. We ambushed their team and captured two senior officials of the government and sent them to the rear in Ferry Junction, where Gullit was based. Only the fighting force was at Eastern Police.

Pros: Which government are you talking about?

Wit: The SLPP government headed by Tejan-Kabbah.

Pros: Do you recall which senior officials you captured?

Wit: Yes. I’ve forgotten the name, a Dr. Dabo (ph) or something like that.

Pros: What were their positions?

Wit: They were ministers in the government.

Pros: What do you mean, you took them to the rear?

Wit: A team moved from Eastern Police and took them to where Gullit and others had withdrawn to after the attack on State House – to the headquarters at Ferry Junction.

Pros: What happened to these officials?

Wit: When Gullit called from Ferry Junction that we should come for reinforcements, they had been killed and their bodies displayed at the junction. Gullit said he ordered their killing because there was no need to have them in our midst. He said they were collaborators who fought against us.

Pros: What happened then?

Wit: After this incident, I, Col. Eddie and others were appointed to receive Rambo and his team around the Allen Town area. So we went and brought them to Ferry Junction.

Pros: Which Rambo?

Wit: This time it was Rambo Red Goat – Idrissa Kamara.

Pros: Do you recall if he came with anyone?

Wit: Yes. They were above 50 RUF and some SLA whom I knew.

Pros: Do you recall how many of the 50 were SLA?

Wit: The SLA were very few. The RUF were more in number.

Pros: Can you give a number for the SLAs?

Wit: About 20. The remaining were all RUF.

Pros: Do you know who sent Rambo Red Goat and his men to Allen Town?

Wit: As I said earlier, Gullit called RUF Rambo saying he’d had an order to release reinforcements to us in Freetown. He said he got the order from Mosquito.

Pros: What happened after their arrival?

Wit: The troop had a high morale at the time. Everybody was happy because they were heavily armed. Gullit said we should move and join the team at Eastern Police, then advance to State House. We recaptured State House.

Pros: What was the date?

Wit: It was almost the third week of January 6th when we entered.

Judge Doherty: What does that mean?

Wit: The third week of January 1999.

Pros: How long did the troops stay at State House when it was recaptured?

Wit: We did not stay in State House for a long time. We heard an announcement from Mosquito over international media. He said he was not ready for any peace or cease-fire, and that he was ordering Gullit in Freetown to start burning strategic areas in Freetown and capture civilians. He then called Gullit on the radio set and told him that the government was about to fool around the troops and the movement. The government was preparing to take Freetown. We should burn the buildings and capture civilians so that there was nobody for the government to rule.

Judge Sebutinde: What international media?

Pros: What international media?

Wit: The BBC. He went over the BBC. Mostly he used BBC and RFI.

Pros: Did Gullit respond?

Wit: From that stage, Gullit ordered…

Pros: Did Gullit respond to Mosquito?

Wit: Yes. He said, “yes sir, I will order the men to burn down and capture civilians”.

Pros: What happened after Gullit responded to Mosquito?

Wit: Gullit called senior commanders and said they would start the burning. He said they should start distributing petrol to the troops he led. They started doing it and burning Freetown.

Pros: How do you know about the order?

Wit: It was not a hidden order. Senior commanders were there. We were all there when Gullit gave the orders.

Pros: What happened after Gullit gave the orders and the petrol was distributed?

Wit: Gullit left for the rear. ECOMOG attacked us and we withdrew. As we were withdrawing, we were burning.

Pros: What was the structure of the group that was withdrawing?

Wit: We had Rambo’s reinforcement, the Red Lion Battalion – we were mixed up all together.

Pros: Was it an organized withdrawal?

Wit: Yes. We were exchanging fire as we withdrew and setting houses on fire.

Pros: What was your location?

Wit: I was in the advance team that was withdrawing.

Pros; You said after State House was recaptured, everyone retreated to the rear. What are you referring to in this context?

Wit: I’m talking about where the headquarters was now based, around Ferry Junction. Gullit and others were coming with manpower and logistics for the front line, but they were based in the rear.

Pros: When all the troops arrived there, did Gullit say anything?

Wit; We were attacked at Eastern Police and again at Mountain Cut. Gullit was at Ferry Junction. We continued to mount defensive until Gullit moved and joined us around Savage Square. They said they had information that one SLA had been killed around Fourah Bay, and that the Fourah Bay had challenged us. Myself and some other men were sent to Fourah Bay to kill people there.

Pros: What was in the group?

Wit: Gullit, Bazzy, Five-Five, RUF, SLA, Red Lion members.

Pros: What exactly happened?

Wit: When we got to Fourah Bay, we forced people from their houses and killed them. Then we burned their houses. These were civilians whom Gullit said had attacked and killed a soldier. Gullit said they killed one of our men.

Pros: How many civilians were killed in Fourah Bay?

Wit: We went with a team. I did not count. I cannot give an exact figure.

Pros: The houses burnt – were they all empty?

Wit: When we got there, people were in their houses. Some remained in their houses and we burned them down. We made sure nobody escaped.

Pros: Those people in the houses, what happened to them?

Wit: They died inside there. We would not just set fire and move. We would wait until everything was burned to the ground.

Pros: How did you know there were people in the houses?

Wit: You would hear shouting and screaming.

Pros: Did you participate in this operation?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: What happened after this operation?

Wit: We withdrew and mounted a defensive as Up Gun because ECOMOG had come as far as Mountain Cut.

Pros: What do you mean by mounting a defensive?

Wit: WE had strong manpower and attacked all offensives. We had guardposts and the men were in ambush.

Pros; Who were the commanders in Up Gun?

Wti: Med Bejehjeh, Junior Lion, Foday Bamara, Basky, Bomb Blast, Gullit, Five-Five. The troop was under serious pressure.

Pros: What was Bomb Blast’s position at the time?

Wit: He was still a military supervisor.

Pros; Where was 05?

Wit: Also there at Up Gun. He was Operations Commander.

Pros: Where was Rambo Red Goat?

Wit: The whole team that withdrew from State House was there.

Pros: Were there female fighters among you?

Wit: Yes, we had women.

Pros: Do you recall names?

Wit: Adama, referred to as “Adama Cut Hand”. She was a member of the Army.

Pros: This name, “Cut Hand”, is it a nickname?

Wit: She always had a machete with her and was not afraid to amputate people.

Pros: Where was she when the group was at Up Gun?

Wit: She was with Gullit. Mostly she was at brigade headquarters.

Pros: Was she there in Up Gun?

Wit: I can’t recall.

Pros: Did anything happen in Up Gun?

Wit: Whilst on this defensive, Five-Five came, Major Mines, and Kabila…

Pros: Who was Kabila?

Wit: One of 05’s men who came from Koinadugu.

Pros: What happened?

Wit: Five-Five said we should start amputating. He said he would demonstrate it. They captured about three civilians. They had something we call mortar, used to pound pepper or groundnuts. They put their hands on that mortar, and he asked if they wanted long-sleeve or short-sleeve: being amputated at the wrist or elbow. He said this was a demonstration and we should start amputating people. Five-Five amputated those people.

Pros: When he said long-sleeve, what did that mean?

Wit: It means they’d cut from this area.

Judge Doherty: For the record, witness indicates just above elbow. For short-sleeve, he indicates the wrist.

Pros: The three civilians – how were they amputated by Five-Five?

Wit: Five-Five placed the mortar on the ground. The civilians placed their hands on it. Five-Five said they had voted for Kabbah and they should go tell Kabbah.

Pros: Of the three, how many had short-sleeve amputation?

Wit: He gave short sleeve to one, and two long-sleeves.

Pros: Who did the actual amputation of these three civilians?

Wit: Five-Five did it.

Pros: Did anyone else participate?

Wit: Immediately after this, Major Mines and Kabila started capturing people and amputating them.

Pros; How many?

Wit: I can’t recall. We saw them amputating arms and telling the civilians to tell Pa Kabbah.

Pros: Did you do anything in Up Gun?

Wit: I was with the defensive force. We were prepared for any attacks from ECOMOG. Five-Five, Mines and Kabila meanwhile amputated people.

Pros: From Up Gun where did you go?

Wit: WE were attacked by ECOMOG and we withdrew to PWD Junction.

Pros; What happened there?

Wit: Gullit said that the Guineans had moved from Kambia as far as Waterloo. They were coming to bulldoze our team in Freetown. He said we should start capturing civilians so that we could force the government to recognize us. He said we should burn houses. He moved with civilians towards Shell Oil Road. Those of us in the fighting force waited and when ECOMOG attacked, so we started withdrawing from PWD.

Pros: Who was in this advance group?

Wit: I was, Kefokeh and some other commanders. RUF, STF, some of the Liberian guys who came. We were all there. 05 and Med Bejehjeh were there.

Pros: Which Liberian guys?

Wit: The former NPFL fighters.

Pros: How long did this group exist in this composition?

Wit: Until we withdrew to the mental home called the Crazy Yard. It’s around Kissy, the Shell Oil Road area.

Pros: Where was Rambo Red Goat?

Wit: He was also with the fighting force.

Pros: When you say the fighting force, which group is that?

Wit: This was the group that mounted the defensive at Eastern Police, captured State House and withdrew.

Pros: Just to be clear, when you say “fighting force”, do you mean the group that remained behind or went ahead?

Wit: It was the advance force that attacked Freetown. It was the battlefront group.

Pros: You’ve just spoken about a fighting force you were with.

Wit: It was the same group in which I was.

Pros: I’m asking about the composition of the fighting force during the withdrawal from Freetown.

Wit: This fighting force remained together until we got to Crazy Yard. It was this force that Gullit was always looking to. When the fighting force retreated, the brigade retreated. When it advanced, the brigade advanced.

Pros: Where was Rambo Red Goat?

Wit: With the fighting force.

Pros: The one that remained behind when Gullit and others left Freetown first?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: It remained together until you reached the mental home?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: The Kissy Mental Home?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Did anything happen now, as the group started withdrawing?

Wit: Those of us who left the PWD area, we went on burning. We burned and retreated, burned and retreated. We captured civilians and took them to the rear. When we got to Shell, Junior Lion was at the junction there. From there we moved towards Crazy Yard.

Pros: What were you burning?

Wit: We were burning houses.

Pros: Were they all empty?

Wit: No, they were not empty. There were areas where civilians were in there. We set the housed on fire and they died in there. We stayed in the area until the houses burned down.

Pros: This happened from PWD to Shell Oil Road?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Do you recall where?

Wit: Towards Fisher Lane, Sarola, Shell.

Pros: Did you meet any civilians while at Shell Oil Road?

Wit: Yes. We saw Usman Sesay, “Changa Bulanga”. They did amputations there also.

Pros: Who was doing amputations?

Wit: Changa Bulanga amputated three people, I saw. We moved with Junior Lion toward Crazy Yard, where Gullit was waiting.

Pros: How were the amputations conducted?

Wit: By the same method, cutting them against a mortar – short sleeve or long sleeve.

Pros: How many civilians were amputated above or at the elbow?

Wit: There were two. The other one was here [indicates wrist].

Pros: Do you recall if Changa Bulanga said anything to these civilians?

Wit: He said they were the people who voted for Pa Kabbah. They should go to Pa Kabbah to give them hands.

Pros: Where did you go?

Wit: At Crazy Yard we met Gullit and the entire brigade. We had some vehicles. We set them on fire. The whole brigade moved into the hills around Crazy Yard area. We moved all the civilians we’d captured so none could escape. A whole battalion guarded them.

Pros: How many captured civilians were with your fighting force by the time you got to Crazy Yard?

Wit: We had many: young girls, old men, women…

Pros; How many?

Wit: You would see commanders with 2-3 women. There were many. Most were given loads to carry. Young men and women were given loads to carry.

Pros: What were these loads?

Wit: Rice, clothing, jean materials, valuables. foot. Those were things we looted when we came to Freetown. Also money, because we did not joke about money issues.

Pros: Who were the items looted from?

Wit: From civilians in Freetown. If you refused, you will die.

Pros: What do you mean?

Wit: If I said to you I want your wristwatch, if you delay, I will shoot you. If I want your trousers or shoes, I will ask for it. If you refuse to give it to me, you will die.

Pros: Who is “you”?

Wit: When I saw a civilian as a fighter, if I asked what was in your pocket – if you delay to take it out, you will die.

Pros: How would a civilian die?

Wit: In my case, I had my barrel. I shot them. Some men had machetes and would delay in killing people.

Pros: What do you mean they would delay?

Wit; I said they had their own way to take care of you when they refused them.

Pros: How?

Wit: They will hack you to death. They were not playing about that.

Pros: Who hacked who to death?

Wit: Anyone of the RUF or AFRC who came – some had barrels and some had machetes.

Pros: How do you know about the other men who would kill civilians for not handing over property?

Wit: I saw those activities going on. You would not object to anybody. Some men would even go to people’s houses to ask for money. Even if they got money, the fighter would burn the house anyway, or would lock the person in the house and burned it down. I saw those things happen in Freetown.

Pros: You’ve spoken about “family members” at the brigade. When you say that here at this time at the mental home, who are you talking about?

Wit: It was a code we used to refer to captured civilians, including those we captured in Freetown.

Pros: How many fighters were now with the group when you got to Kissy Mental Home?

Wit: My God, we were now more than 3,000, including those we freed from Pademba Road.

Pros: Where was Adama Cut Hand?

Wit: Still with the troops.

Pros: Did you see her at Kissy Mental Home?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Did anything happen at Kissy Mental Home?

Wit: Yes. Something happened.

Court is now adjourning for the mid-morning break. Proceedings will resume at 12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio).